)n this Labor Day weekend, as we relax and unwind, we might inevitably think about the work that we do and wonder what in the world it has to do with our overall, spiritual purpose in life. This might be a fairly straightforward thing to do if you have a “regular” job, one that, perhaps, takes advantage of your training, education, and skills, and brings you great fulfillment.
But if you have chronic illness or pain and cannot work outside the home, or cannot hold down even a home-based job, finding vocation within daily life can be much more difficult.
I remember in the first days surrounding my diagnosis of lupus, and the orders from my doctors to stop working immediately, reaching out to everyone I knew and asking them about possible jobs I could have that would be doable given my catastrophic health situation. Of course, there was no way I could take any of them, but I was filled with great anxiety at the thought that I’d be unproductive for the rest of my life.
As lupus got worse, and I was farther from the working world, however, I began to realize that illness, and a faith-centered life with and inspite of it, is a very valid vocation. This was further validated by several talks given by the late Pope John Paul II, who remained pope although he was debilitated from Parkinson’s.
When we consider our illness and pain as a vocation, then we can move ahead to being productive and fulfilled. We can help others navigate the maze of feelings and practical matters surrounding a new and horrible diagnosis. We can communicate to others about our illness and what it means to us and society – and also clearly define the best way to help.
Illness as vocation also helps us connect the struggles we endure with God’s love for us; yes, we have terrible days of pain, but we also have very good days, where we make progress or receive and give kindness. Days where we make a difference.
Within the confines of chronic illness, it’s so easy to become gloomy and think that life is only going on “out there,” apart from us, and that we have nothing to give an nothing to gain from our desperate condition.
But we have much to give and gain, really, if we turn the tables on sadness and hopelessness and seek our vocation right where we are. Here. Now. With all of our brokenness and all of our gifts.
Then we can experience calm, gain strength, and really honor and benefit from the very special gift we all have: Life
Blessings for the day,